". . . and I heard my name as if for the first time. . ."

5 thoughts on “". . . and I heard my name as if for the first time. . ."”

  1. Love it, Alison! It makes me want to write out my ‘nickname’ story. On my blog I recently wrote about how my name seemed to fall off the map the minute my mom christened me with it (I’m the youngest Judy you’ll EVER know…) but I never even touched the nickname component.

    I was the middle child – two older sisters, two younger brothers. The brothers were in their own orbit, my life revolved around being the youngest sister. So they were always smarter, prettier, witty-er…they were always older. To this day sometimes I feel like I can’t ‘grow up’ in their minds.

    When I was younger, they called me Judy Pudy. It was endearing. It made me feel special. It’s the kind of name cherished little girls had, in all the books I read.

    But you’re right. NO ONE else could call me that. Not my brothers, not even my parents. It just felt wrong. It was my name from my sisters.

    But at some point, maybe when I hit college and realized I was capable and smart and pretty (enough) all on my own, I started to cringe a bit when they said it. In phone calls and at holiday gatherings it would be pulled out and used, only in a spirit of loveliness, but it seemed to have the power to push me down.

    It made me feel inferior then. Like I was still trapped in the little, naive sister mode.

    Now I’m in my 40s. I have reached a point that it doesn’t bother me at all when my oldest sister calls me Pudy, but it rubs me all wrong when my middle sister does. I think it has something to do with underlying respect. My oldest sister has accepted me as a grown up. She values my opinion and we have bonded over teen daughter stories and tragedies. When she (rarely) says “Pudy”, it drips of love.

    When my other sister says it (almost every time I hear from her), it still implies ‘I’m your older sister. I know more than you. You’d be wise to take my unsolicited advice..’ I sometimes wonder if she realizes I have twice as many kids, twice the ages of her boys, when she gives *me* parenting advice.

    Nicknames…what a treasure trove of stories they bring up! Thanks for that fun romp, on this quiet Sunday morning!

    Judy

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  2. My family were always big on nicknames, sometimes I feel slightly embarrassed that we seem incapable of referring to each other by our full given names; I know it can be irritating to outsiders. I remember when my sister-in-law got cross with someone in our family shortening her name, which was her prerogative, my mother opined that it was petty and ‘inconsequential’ to fuss about what people called you. She was wrong of course, but in fact I’ve never minded much what I’ve been called.

    In fact my youngest brother, her husband, is the only one who very firmly trained us out of using the ‘Pip’ shortening of his name, which my dad loved to call him, in favour of ‘Phil’, which seems a bit sad on reflection, but he struggled at school with bullying etc so I suppose a babyish nickname was too much.

    Tom decided against my family nickname, which has at times been taken up by others close to me, preferring a simpler shortening which feels more like his own to him. That’s fine, though I don’t tell him that it’s actually been quite commonplace in my life and really less intimate to me than the odder, older family one. Voice and tone are important in these matters too.

    As Judy says, a rich and interesting subject, and lovely writing as ever.

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  3. I’m fascinated by names. In the middle of fourth grade I decided I was mature enough to be called Karen instead of by my nickname, Kari. Since that time, I have been Kari only to family members, friends from the church I grew up in, and the people I knew from the community music school which was practically a second home. Everybody else knows me as Karen. I, too, seem to give off a don’t-mess-with-my-name vibe, because there is almost no crossover from Kari to Karen or vice-versa.

    Once in a while, though, somebody I’ve just met misunderstands the pronunciation of my name completely and thinks my name is Carmen. (A name which probably couldn’t be farther away from my personality and always strikes me as really funny.)

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  4. I love this story so much! I can totally relate. I have never really had a nick name that stuck either. My mom called me a bunch of silly things when I was very little, but most of my life I was just “Nicole”. When I got to college though, people started calling me “Nicolio” – Well, just some very close friends, and they still do to this day. But, it is one of those things that I love being called by those few people.

    A secretly enjoy being called “Nic” but only one or two girlfriends do that. Funny enough, Ross (my partner) ex-girlfriend who I have become friends with, apparently referred to me as “Nic” when Ross was talking to her the other day. and Ross said “no one calls her that… well, I guess you do now.” Haha. I was very happy to hear of it.

    Nicknames are such an interesting thing. I love both of your sister’s nicknames. Oatie is amazing! I am sure a good story there. I am glad to hear though you have a nick name w/those few special friends. I think perhaps nick names we share w/just a few are the best.

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  5. I love these stories, every one of them. Who knew that the topic of nicknames would strike such a chord? Makes me think there should be a little anthology devoted expressly to nickname stories.

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